It is official: WHO has declared the Africa region polio free

Today, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa region, has officially certified free from wild poliovirus, signifying a major milestone in the battle to eradicate the disease worldwide.

This certification has come four years after Nigeria, the last polio-endemic country in Africa, recorded its final case of wild polio and is an incredible public health achievement for Rotary members, the African region, and Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

This progress is the result of a decades-long effort across the 47 countries which make up the WHO’s African region and now means that five of the six WHO regions, which represent 90% of the world’s population, will be free of polio.

Efforts to get to this momentous stage have involved millions of health workers traveling by foot, boat, bike and bus to reach children, innovative strategies to vaccinate those living among conflict and insecurity, and a huge disease surveillance network to test cases of paralysis and check sewage for the virus.

In 1996, Rotary and our partners joined with Nelson Mandela to jumpstart Africa’s commitment to polio eradication. Since then, 9 billion doses of oral polio vaccine have been provided, averting an estimated 1.8 million cases of wild poliovirus on the continent.

Rotary members have played an invaluable role in the effort to rid the African region of wild polio.

By raising funds for polio eradication, advocating with world governments and national and local leaders, and raising awareness, Rotarians have contributed nearly US $890 million to conquer polio in the region.

Despite this incredible public health milestone, the job to fully rid the world of polio goes on, as the virus continues to circulate in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Vaccination programmes must continue to reach every last child and strengthen routine immunisation to keep immunity levels high, so the virus does not return to Africa.

Rotary members across Great Britain and Ireland remain committed to making the final, challenging steps towards a polio free world a reality.

Events will be taking place across the world on 24th October, to mark annual World Polio Day.

Our impact starts with you.

You can help make our pledge to rid the world of polio reality by donating to our End Polio Now campaign. Every donation to Rotary will be trebled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so every £1 will become £3.

You can also get involved with our Purple4Polio activities; fun fundraising ideas to bring your community together while protecting children around the world.

If you already have an event planned in the to celebrate World Polio Day, or the certification of a polio-free Africa region, let us know! Please register your events using this online form so they can be added them to our event map.

Posted in: Foundation, Polio

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Former drug addict comes clean to help feed the hungry through Covid

Former drug addict comes clean to help feed the hungry through Covid

Former drug addict Mick Hanley has turned his life around.  He is now a key member of the Sheffield S6 team working tirelessly to feed the hungry in Sheffield.  Supporting others in dire straits is helping him keep on the ‘straight and narrow’.  He talks about his life, and how surrounding himself with positive people has been one of the cornerstones of his recovery.

Mick Hanley is 52, happily married and lives with his wife Julie in Stocksbridge. He spends his days helping others.  But from the age of 13, for 25 years, Mick was a drug abuser, addicted to alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine.  His future looked bleak.

By his early 20s, Mick’s life had fallen apart and for eight years he lived on the streets in the north of England.

“It was a constant fight for survival,” he says. “Every day I lived in fear of attack, always watching my back, just existing from one day to the next.  I lived a chaotic existence with the focus on trying to stay warm, stay fed and find somewhere safe to sleep. It was a battle just to stay alive.”

It was Bolton drugs worker, Phil, who helped turn Mick’s life around.  “Without Phil I wouldn’t be here to tell my story,” he says.  Back in 2008, Phil encouraged Mick who was living in hostels then, to go on a detox programme and arranged for him to spend a month in a rehab centre in Manchester.  He moved on to Storth Oaks in Sheffield where he spend eight months. “There were relapses, but thanks to the support of Phil and the team there I started to see the potential for a better life.”

In 2009, while volunteering in the kitchens at The Cathedral Archer Project in the city Mick met assistant cook, Julie.  They married in 2015 and Mick now has a loving family – four step children and four step grandchildren.

A part-time church caretaker, he also works for four days each week distributing food to foodbanks from the Sheffield S6 warehouse. As he helps unload another pallet of food delivered by the South Yorkshire charity programme, Rotary4foodbanks, he says: “It makes me so proud to be with a team of such wonderful people. I am honoured to be a part of it.  I love every minute of the work I do.”

Demand for services has rocketed since the pandemic hit.  Mick says the supplies donated by Rotary4foodbanks have provided a lifeline during lockdown. The R4FB group, run by Rotarians, buys food at wholesale prices and distributes it free to organisations like Sheffield S6 who in turn deliver it to foodbanks across the region. 

Mick expects the problem of hunger in the city to get worse in the coming months.

“I have experienced first-hand the real suffering which hardship and hunger can bring to individuals and families.  I am determined, along with others in the team, to make sure that no-one in our region goes hungry this Autumn and Winter.  I implore anyone who can, to give money and time to support our efforts.”

And what advice would he give to others who find themselves in the position he was in in his teens and twenties?  “Don’t be in denial. Admit you have a problem.  Most importantly, surround yourself with positive people.  Then look to help others.  It is so life-affirming,” he says.

Mick works for Sheffield S6 which is part of the Trussell Trust. 

Rotary4foodbanks is run entirely by unpaid volunteers.  It supplies food to over 50 foodbanks across South Yorkshire and the East Midlands and has a just giving page for those wanting to support its work.

You can support Rotary4Foodbanks through our JustGiving page

Posted in: Rotary4Foodbanks

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Mansfield high-flyer at heart of foodbank charity scheme

Mansfield high-flyer at heart of foodbank charity scheme

A sky-diving, wing-walking Mansfield woman has found herself at the heart of a major £100,000 charity initiative to keep foodbanks stocked across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.

28 year old Lauren Warner, an international transport planner at Mansfield’s Taylor’s Transport, has her work cut out.  She is at the centre of operations for Rotary4foodbanks which is providing vital supplies to over 50 foodbanks in the region.  Now, with supermarket giant Morrisons linking to the ground-breaking scheme, she is set to get even busier.

Since the launch of Rotary4foodbanks in April this year, Taylor’s has been on board, donating space, staff and vehicles to manage the stocks which the Rotary team has been buying in bulk for foodbanks.  Because Rotary4foodbanks buys at wholesale prices, foodbanks get even greater value from public cash donations at a time when demand for their services is doubling too.

Says Lauren, “I have not been furloughed throughout the covid crisis and was only too happy to take on the extra work involved in managing the distribution of food to foodbanks.  At Taylor’s, we’ve always tried to give back to the community and this is such a practical way of using our expertise to meet a real need.”

Rotary4foodbanks, which is already distributing £100,000 worth of staple foods like tea coffee, cereals and tinned fruit, now works with supermarket giant Morrisons’ bulk buy scheme, set up specifically to help charities.  Lauren was on hand to receive the first Morrisons delivery of nearly 28,000 items of food which recently arrived at Taylors Huthwaite distribution centre.

Lauren, who lives with her partner in Mansfield, is no stranger to charity endeavours.  Having already completed a sky-dive in support of the John Eastwood Hospice in Sutton in Ashfield where her grandfather spent his final days, she is planning a wing-walk early next year to raise funds for research into endometriosis.

“Right now though,” she says, “my focus is on working with Rotary4foodbanks to ensure that no-one goes hungry as the post-Covid recession hits more and more families in our region.”

Eventually, Rotary4foodbanks hopes that the government will give financial backing to grow the scheme nationally.  John Cavey, project leader, explains: “Until then we are relying on product donations from food sector companies and cash funding from other thriving businesses.  And of course, we welcome donations from the always generous great British public.  To help, we have set up a just giving page, where people can add value by gift aiding their donations.

You can support Rotary4Foodbanks through our JustGiving page

Posted in: Rotary4Foodbanks

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Rotherham pulls together to combat growing hunger crisis

Rotherham pulls together to combat growing hunger crisis

A foodbank project manager has praised supermarkets, Rotary Clubs and others for how they have pulled together to combat hunger in the town.  But, warns Stephen Prosser of Rotherham Foodbank, the real crisis is only just beginning.

Since April, first-time users represent over 50% of the clients presenting vouchers for food at Rotherham Foodbank’s Hope Centre on Grove Road.  That, says Steve, should sound a warning about how tough times will get as the post-covid recession bites.

“Had it not been for the generosity of supermarkets like Morrisons and Tesco, and the superb efforts of our local Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club and Rotary4foodbanks, we would be facing a real dilemma.  Because of their donations of vital supplies our shelves are reasonably stocked to see us through the summer.  But it will be in the autumn, as furloughs end and redundancies kick in, as the homeless are no longer housed in hotels, that the real scale of the hunger issue will hit home.”

During 2012 when the foodbank first opened its doors, it fed just 124 people.  In 2015 the number had increased to 2338.  By 2019 it had more than doubled again to 4869 with over 42 tonnes of food distributed to support some of the most vulnerable in the Rotherham community.

Since April this year, when Rotherham Sitwell Rotary stepped in to help, the club has provided over five tonnes of the 19 tonnes of food in stock or distributed by the foodbank.  Club members are donating between £500 and £1000 every week to buy supplies, and supermarket giant Morrisons is more than matching that contribution.

To help meet the growing demand the South Yorkshire and East Midlands Rotary Clubs have added a new tier of support – Rotary4foodbanks.  Pooling resources, Rotary4foodbanks bulk buys staple food supplies – tea, coffee, tinned fruit, cereals – at wholesale prices which it distributes by the pallet-load to around 50 foodbanks across the region.  By the end of August it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.

“For us it is the perfect combination,” says Steve.  “While Rotary4foodbanks supplies good shelf-life stocks of those in-demand items, we can write a shopping list of our specific needs to the local Rotary Club and, working with Morrisons, we know they will provide it.

“It is heart-warming to see local charities like Rotary, together with businesses and individuals, pull together to support those who might otherwise fall through the net. It says so much about the true spirit of Rotherham in times of crisis.”

That spirit stretches even further, explains Rotherham Sitwell Rotary’s Roger Green:

“Club members have been fantastically generous. But to transport the stocks, we needed a vehicle big enough to do it.  Rotherham business Universal Vehicle Suppliers stepped in straight away.  They have lent us a 17-seater minibus for as long as we need it.  Now we can both transport goods and socially distance the team travelling to load and unload at each end!”

Local MP Sarah Champion has praised the work of Rotary4foodbanks.  She says:

“I am aware of the R4FB scheme and am really impressed by the speed at which this was put together and the generosity of not only Rotary Club members but retailers and distributors. The scale that R4FB has been able to reach is quite incredible. Behind each of those parcels was a family or individual who, without their help may have gone hungry. 

“The generous spirit of Rotherham people has really come to the fore in the last few months, with people pulling together to help friends, family and strangers. It is one of the reasons that I am so proud to represent Rotherham in Parliament.”

Steve Prosser and his team of up to 12 volunteers are always looking for cash and food donations to support their work in the town. 

Rotary4foodbanks is planning to double its work in the next three months and has set up a just giving page for those wanting to donate.

You can support Rotary4Foodbanks through our JustGiving page

Posted in: Rotary4Foodbanks, Rotherham Sitwell

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Pete Wearn, Rotary4Foodbanks volunteer Featured on East Midlands Today

Pete Wearn, Rotary4Foodbanks volunteer Featured on East Midlands Today

As previously reported, retired physics teacher Pete Wearn has found himself behind the wheel of a major local initiative to keep hard-pressed foodbanks stocked as demand for their services soars.

Now he is quite literally one of the driving forces behind Rotary4foodbanks, an initiative to help ensure no-one across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire goes hungry as a result of the Covid crisis.

Peter was part of a feature mentioning unsung heroes on BBC East Midlands today 21/07/2020.

You can support Rotary4Foodbanks through our JustGiving page

Posted in: Rotary4Foodbanks

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Dronfield food charity gets Rotary lifeline as demand for services doubles

Dronfield food charity gets Rotary lifeline as demand for services doubles

A Dronfield food charity has seen demand for its services double since the start of the Covid crisis.  With the help of the local supermarkets and a vital supply lifeline from Rotary4foodbanks they are now providing food parcels to over 100 local families in need every week.

“Before March we had 100 individuals on our books and in need of support. Now that has risen to 250, including families where children would otherwise go hungry without our support,” says Janet Morton who manages the Re:Store Community Food service on behalf of Oaks Community Church.

Originally set up to reduce food waste, Re:Store has increasingly become a lifeline for vulnerable families in and around Dronfield.  “We work with supermarkets to ensure that ‘near-its-sell-by-date’ food doesn’t get wasted.  But with the increase in demand, there have been days when we had nothing on the shelves and have had to turn people away.  Our link with Dronfield Rotary Club and Rotary4foodbanks has been a real boost, ensuring that we always have something to include in the food parcels.”

The Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region.  By the end of August it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.

Janet picks up Rotary4foodbank stocks – coffee, tea, tinned fruit and cereals – by the pallet-load from a Sheffield warehouse.  Her team of volunteers split it into individual parcels.  “Previously people have come into our community food service, based at Lea Rd in Dronfield and picked up what they need.  Now, as part of social distancing and to safeguard our own team, they wait at the door while we pack parcels for them.”

Janet normally counts on 20 volunteers but with many of them elderly and shielding, the team is under more pressure than ever.  She expects that as the furlough system ends and redundancies increase, the demand for Re:Store’s service will increase still further.  “We are committed to meeting the need, come what may, and are grateful to initiatives like Rotary4foodbanks, for the vital support they provide.”

You can support Rotary4Foodbanks through our JustGiving page

Posted in: Dronfield, Rotary4Foodbanks

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1220 Challenge – fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK

Logo for the 1220 Challenge

Throughout the years members of the Rotary Club of Sherwood Forest have raised thousands of pounds for local and International charities by holding a variety of fund raising efforts.  Three years ago the club arranged a sponsored bike ride that raised 4,000 for Cancer UK. 

For our new fundraising challenge for this Rotary year we have chosen to raise money ‘Prostate Cancer UK’.  The challenge will run from the 8th July 2020 to 8th July 2021.

Due to the current pandemic we have had to be creative and create a challenge that is open to every one of all ages but offers the safest possible way for people to take part, even if social distancing is reintroduced in the coming months.

So what is the 1220 Challenge? 

The aim of this challenge is for people of all ages to cycle a specific distance which relates to our Rotary Clubs district, 1220.  The challenge will be spread over a whole year and the riders can either complete the whole ride outside or from the safety of their own homes on an exercise bikes.

There are a number of distances to choose from, which are based on starting at the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest

  1. Sherwood Forest to Oxford (122 miles)
  2. Sherwood Forest to Dover Castle (220 miles)
  3. Sherwood Forest to Dijon (600 miles)
  4. Sherwood Forest to Rome (1220 miles)

And for the really hard core cyclist

  • Sherwood Forest to Istanbul (2021 miles)

We have tried to select distances that will appeal to riders or all ages and abilities.

If you initially chose to do a short distance but want to go further feel free to do so.

How will we record your progress?

Everyone that wants to take part in this event will be asked to join the cycling App STRAVA.  You can do this on your mobile phone, tablets and laptop computers.  We will provide you with full details of how to join STRAVA and how to record your rides after you commit to the challenge (there is a capacity to enter rides on done on an exercise bike which is why we chose this application). 

You will then be invited to join the ‘SHERWOOD FOREST ROTARY CYCLING CLUB’ 

This will mean all your rides will be automatically recorded to our page so everyone doing the challenge will be able to see how the other riders are progressing.

We will also be posting regular update on our clubs Facebook; Instagram and Twitter pages so if you want to take photographs of you riding then please do and forward them onto us at our email address.


Due to COVID19 we have decided that the safest way to raise the money is through direct donations to our ‘Just Giving’ page as this will mean money doesn’t have to he handled.  There is the option of having a sponsorship form which can be downloaded from the Prostate Cancer UK website.

We have a just giving page for this challenge

If people want to make a donation then they can also leave a message relating to the person who they are supporting so each rider can see what they have raised.

All the money raised through this challenge will go to Prostate Cancer UK.  All we ask is that each rider makes a voluntary contribution of #10 through the just giving page in order to take part.

How do I join the challenge?

If want to take part or would like further details please contact Dave or Laura Dennis at the following e-mail address and we will contact you back as soon as we can.

Contact details

Posted in: Fundraising, Sherwood Forest

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